THE POWER OF ANTIQUITY, ACTA UNIVERSITATIS OULUENSIS B Humaniora 125
|Kustantaja:||Oulun yliopisto|| |
|Oppiaine:||Kasvatus, opetus|| |
|Sijainti:||Print Tietotalo|| |
|Tekijät:||ANTTILA TERO|| |
My thesis focuses on the incorporation of Hyperboreans, a mythical classical race, into the
prevailing Gothic or Geatic narrative of national history in seventeenth and eighteenth century
Swedish historiography. The beatific Hyperboreans were identified with ancient Swedes to
emphasise that the Gothic ancestors of Sweden’s rulers had not been mere mediaeval barbarians.
The most extreme proponents of this Hyperborean research tradition claimed that a high culture
had thrived in Sweden before classical antiquity. They asserted that traces of this highly-developed
northern civilisation could be found in the Bible, classical writings and mediaeval historiography,
as well as the domestic antiquities such as runestones and Old Norse writings.
By close-reading published and unpublished writings of historians and antiquaries, I examined
the overarching and shared distinctive features within this Hyperborean research tradition. This
involved an analysis of the main content of this research tradition in its learned, mostly Western
European historiographical setting. I focused especially on understanding the Hyperborean
research tradition within the intellectual traditions of constructing fabulous pasts.
The seventeenth century was a period of institutionalisation of historical and antiquarian
research in Sweden and Europe. Hence, I also studied the role of specific politico-historical and
institutional conditions in the emergence, development and decline of the Hyperborean research
By combining these two approaches, I attempted to strike a balance between research on longterm
intellectual traditions and short-term immediate situations in which the ideas about the
Hyperboreans were developed and used.
Ultimately my thesis illustrates that the Hyperborean research tradition was a fairly coherent
tradition of research. It arose in the early seventeenth century as part of the political pursuits and
problems of Swedish monarchs in the domestic front and the Baltics. The tradition dominated
Swedish historiography during the period of Swedish absolutism (1690–1720), before gradually
crumbling from 1730s onwards. The emergence, development and decline of the Hyperborean
research tradition were all a result of complex historiographical and politico-institutional factors.